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THE LYDIUS HOUSE,

Reproduced frora a drawing made by Mr. An^er,
Kind's Surveyor, 1732.



This house stood at the junction of Fort Edward Creek and Hudson River.



...THE...

fortEdwardBook

CONTAINING SOME

HISTORICAL SKETCHES

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS,

AND FAMILY RECORDS.



By ROBERT O BASCOM,

MEMBER OF NEW YORK STATE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION,
AND OF THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY.



PUBLISHED BY

JAMES D. KEATING,

Fort Edward, N. Y.

1903,



/ I At





Copyrighted, 1903, by James D. Keating.



PREFACE.



No one can know better, no one can more deeply regret, than
the author, the defects and omissions of the present volume. If
it has any virtues, they should be ascribed to my esteemed friend,
Mr. James D. Keating, the piiblisher; except for his encourage-
ment, enterprise aud industry, it had never been printed ; its
faults, and they are legion, are all my own. Some of them might
have been avoided, but most of them are due to reasons impera-
tive in their nature.

The following pages will be found to contain some historical
material never before published. For all that is most valuable
the author is indebted to many kind friends, and this indebted-
ness the reader will generally find acknowledged throughout the
subsequent pages, but to dare to hope that I have always ade-
quately expressed my obligations in this regard, would be perhaps
to dare too much.

The subject, "Fort Edward," furnishes a theme sufficiently
attractive for the pen of a "ready writer." That the town has
never had a local historian must be a subject of regret. That
some day there will be written, and published, a history of Fort
Edward that shall be worthy of the name, is the earnest hope of
one who now gives to the world some of the humble gleanings of
an unskilled stroller along a classic highway.

R. 0. B.

Fort Edward, N. Y., Nov. 1, 1903.



CONTENTS.



Introduction



FAGB.

. 5



PART L

CHAPTER I.
The "Great Carrying- Place." Early Eng-lish Expedition to

Canada. 1690, 1691. Primeval Fort Edward . . 11

CHAPTER II.
Sir William Johnson's Expedition. The Lydius House . 21

CHAPTER III.
The Dellius and Lydius Patents . . . . .31

CHAPTER IV.
Lot Owners in the Argj'le Patent ... 35

CHAPTER V.

The Story of the Death of Jane McCrea. The McCrea Family 43

CHAPTER VI.
Who Killed Jane McCrea? ...... 61

CHAPTER VII.
The Jones Family ....... 74

CHAPTER VIII.
The Leg-end of Duncan Campbell .... 80

CHAPTER IX.
Diary of Ensign Hay ward of Woodstock, Conn., kept princi-
pally at Fort Edward, in 1757 . . . . .89

CHAPTER X.
Justice Court in Early Days. List of Jurymen. Some Early

Marriag-es ....... 103

CHAPTER XI.
Reminiscences by an Old Resident of Fort Edward . . 109



^



6 The Fort Edward Book.

glish settlement at this place which was established by Col-
onel John Henry Lydius, as early as 1732. The establish-
ment of Colonel Lydius was one of some consequence and
the early records constantly abound with references to
"Lydius's house," as the place was then called ; and as early
as 1709 the English had built a stockade here which was
called Fort Nicholson. This was, as far as the writer is in-
formed, the first English fortification erected at this point,
yet because of its geographical location, being situated at
the point where the Indian war parties were accustomed to
leave the Hudson river and strike across to the head wa-
ters of Lake Champlain, in ancient times, what is now called
Fort Edward, was known as the "Great Carrying Place."
The trail of this "Carrying Place" from Hudson River to
Lake Champlain did not differ greatly in its direction from
the course now pursued by the Delaware & Hudson Canal
Company's railroad between Fort Edward and Whitehall.

Whether the country now under consideration, prior to
the advent of the white man, was ever peopled by a race
superior in civilization and intelligence to the Iroquois In-
dians must apparently remain forever a subject of indefinite
conjecture. All of our knowledge of the ancient Indian
races that once dwelt here is vague and uncertain. Their
dwellings are vanished and even their burial places are un-
known.

The ploughshare of the husbandman and the spade of
the laborer not unfrequently, even to this day, uncovers
arrow heads of flint, axes, tomahawks, chisels, gouges,
pestles for grinding corn, and other implements of the stone
age; while now and then some objects of adornment, or,
perhaps, even of worship, rudeh'^ shaped, but wrought with
some skill, are occasionally discovered.

The location was clearly marked out and described as
carl\^ as 1690 by General Fitz John Winthrop, who marched
thiongh here with an army of New York and Connecticut



Introduction. 7

men on his way to Montreal. In 1745 the settlement of
Colonel Lydivis was destroyed by the French and Indians
under Marin ; and ten years later, in 1755, in the old French
and Indian war, General William Johnson was here with a
large army, and General Phineas Lyman built the fort,
which was afterwards called Fort Edward.

Probably the earliest permanent settlement in Fort Ed-
ward was that of Nathaniel Gage, who settled in that part
of the town near what is now known as Fort Miller, about
1762. Patrick Smyth and James, his brother, in 1764, set-
tled in the present village of Fort Edward, and from the
timbers of the old fort they erected a house which was
afterwards successively occupied by Schuyler and Burgoyne.
This house is no doubt the oldest one in Washington
Count}^, and is still standing in the lower part of the village,
and is commonly known as the "Old Fort House," taking-
its name from Colonel Abram Forte, who repaired it.

During the Revolution, the vicinity of Fort Edward was
the scene of much military activity, and the tragic story of
the death of Jane McCrea, murdered by the Indians on her
way to meet her lover in the British army, lends to the lo-
calit}^ a romantic interest. To preserve, as far as possible,
the history of these stirring times long since past, and to
gather together into a convenient form an account of some
of the principal events that have occurred here, as well as to
present a picture of the locality as it exists today, are the
principal objects of this volume.



6 The Fort Edward Book.

glish settlement at this place which was established by Col-
onel John Henry Lydius, as early as 1732. The establish-
ment of Colonel Lydius was one of some consequence and
the early records constantly abound with references to
"Lydius's house," as the place was then called ; and as early
as 1709 the English had built a stockade here which was
called Fort Nicholson. This was, as far as the writer is in-
formed, the first English fortification erected at this point,
3^et because of its geographical location, being situated at
the point where the Indian war parties were accustomed to
leave the Hudson river and strike across to the head wa-
ters of Lake Champlain, in ancient times, what is now called
Fort Edward, was known as the "Great Carrying Place."
The trail of this "Carrying Place" from Hudson River to
Lake Champlain did not differ greatly in its direction from
the course now pursued by the Delaware & Hudson Canal
Company's railroad between Fort Edward and Whitehall.

Whether the country now under consideration, prior to
the advent of the white man, was ever peopled by a race
superior in civilization and intelligence to the Iroquois In-
dians must apparently remain forever a subject of indefinite
conjecture. All of our knowledge of the ancient Indian
races that once dwelt here is vague and uncertain. Their
dwellings are vanished and even their burial places are un-
known.

The ploughshare of the husbandman and the spade of
the laborer not unfrequently, even to this day, uncovers
arrow heads of flint, axes, tomahawks, chisels, gouges,
pestles for grinding corn, and other implements of the stone
age; while now and then some objects of adornment, or,
perhaps, even of worship, rudely shaped, but wrought with
some skill, are occasionally discovered.

The location was clearly marked out and described as
carl 3^ as 1690 by General Fitz John Winthrop, who marched
through here with an army of New York and Connecticut



Introduction. 7

men on his way to Montreal. In 1745 the settlement of
Colonel Lydius was destroyed by the French and Indians
under Marin ; and ten years later, in 1755, in the old French
and Indian war. General William Johnson was here with a
large army, and General Phineas Lyman built the fort,
which was afterwards called Fort Edward.

Probably the earliest permanent settlement in Fort Ed-
ward was that of Nathaniel Gage, who settled in that part
of the town near what is now known as Fort Miller, about
1762. Patrick Smyth and James, his brother, in 1764, set-
tled in the present village of Fort Edward, and from the
timbers of the old fort they erected a house which was
afterwards successively occupied by Schuyler and Burgoyne.
This house is no doubt the oldest one in Washington
County, and is still standing in the lower part of the village,
and is commonly known as the "Old Fort House," taking
its name from Colonel Abram Forte, who repaired it.

During the Revolution, the vicinity of Fort Edward was
the scene of much military activity, and the tragic story of
the death of Jane McCrea, murdered by the Indians on her
way to meet her lover in the British army, lends to the lo-
cality a romantic interest. To preserve, as far as possible,
the history of these stirring times long since past, and to
gather together into a convenient form an account of some
of the principal events that have occurred here, as well as to
present a picture of the locality as it exists today, are the
principal objects of this volume.



PART I.



roRT e:dward.



CHAPTER I.

THE "great carrying PLACE." EARLY ENGLISH EXPEDI-

TION TO CANADA. 1690-1691. PRIMEVAL FORT ED-
WARD.

The causes that led to what is known as "King Wil-
liam's War" it is not our purpose here to discuss. It existed,
and there was a constant and long continued struggle be-
tween the French colonies in Canada and the English colon-
ies in New England and New York for the control of this
part of our country. In February, 1690, occurred what is
known in history as the massacre at Schenectady by the
French and Indians who came up Lake Champlain to what
is now Whitehall, thence up Wood creek to what is now
Kingsbury, thence down the valle}^ of Fort Edward creek,
to the Hudson river, and thence to Schenectady. The set-
tlement there was completely wiped out and such cruelty
practiced as to awaken the whole province of New York.
Other French and Indian depredations in New England, part
of the same campaign against the English settlements,
awakened all the English colonies to a sense of their danger,
and led to such concert of action among them that in April
of that year the first colonial congress was held in New
York b}^ the several English colonies in America. One of the
results of this congress was, that the several colonies under-
took to organize an expedition against Canada, both by
land and sea. The latter part of this scheme we may dis-
miss with the single observation that it was a failure.



12 The Fort Edward Book.

The expedition b J land is of more interest to us for it came
here to Fort Edward, and from these early visitors we learn
something of what our town was then. This expedition
was under the command of Major General Winthrop, a son
of Governor Winthrop of Connecticut. General Winthrop
says he left Hartford (Conn.) July 14, 1690, and in seven
days, by a tedious march through an almost impassable
wilderness, reached Albany, where he found Captain Joseph
Fitch and Captain Johnson's companies from Connecticut;
the design against Canada "poorly contrived and little pros-
ecuted," and not above 150 men from New York, which had
undertaken to raise 400 men. Rev. Mr. Walker of Wood-
bury, Conn., w^ho came with Winthrop, "to preach to the
army," and Mr. Chauncey Chapman, went back on the
29th of July with letters to the governor of Connecticut re-
specting "the difficulty of our affairs and increasing ot the
small pox in the army. " July 30th the three companies of
Connecticut men and a company of their Indians marched
from Albany. The Dutch companies marched two days
before.

General Winthrop says: "August 1st, early in the morn-
ing, I followed the arm}^ and quartered this night at a place
called the Still Water, soe named for that the water passeth
soe slowly as not to be discerned, vet at a little distance
both above and below is disturbed and rageth as in a great
sea, occationed by great rocks and great falls therein."
August 2d, he reached a place called "Saraghtoga, " where
there was a block house. There he overtook Mr. Wessells,
Recorder, of Albany, with some Albany volunteers, and here
he received a letter from Peter Schujder, the mayor of
Albany, then up in the country- (the vicinity of Whitehall),
that "cannoers were making for the army. " Thus far the
way had been ver\^ good, "oneh^ foure great wading rivers,
one of them dangerous both for horse and man. "

He sent Captain Nichols to Albany with "some horse,"



Early English Expedition. 13

to hasten up the "provition." August 3d, they remained at
Saratoga. August -ith, he marched to Little Carr^^ing
Place (now Fort Miller), "where the water passeth soe vio-
lently, by reason of the great falls and rocks, that canoers
cannot pass, soe were forced to carry their canooes and pro-
vition on their backs a pretty way to a passable part of the
river; our course N. by E." "August 5th, the English sol-
diers marched with their provition on horses to the Great
Carrying Place (now Fort Edward), where we overtook the
•Dutch companyes, carrying their canooes over the Great
Carrying Place on their backs, about twelve English miles ;
very-bad and difficult passing. This hardship the Burgers
and Dutch souldiers performed vigorously and without au}^
repining, wch made me think nothing would be difficult for
them to performe. Our way this day, a continual swamp,
abounding with exceeding tall, white pine, fit to mast any
ship. Noe grass for our horses this day ; our course has been
north." "August 6th, we marched over the Carrying Place,
twelve English myles, and encamped at a branch of the
Woodcreke called the Falk (Fork), that leads into the lake,
and is accounted part of the lake water, and it constantly
payeth its tribute. In this creek canooers pass into the lake
called Coders (Corlears) — (Champlain). Our way, a contin-
ual swamp of statel}^ white pines. From this place horses
can pass noe further. Our course this day, east, north east."
The next day Governor Winthrop sent thirty horses, under
the command of Ensign Tomlinson, back to Saratoga for
provisions. He left the main bod}' at the Fork, under Cap-
tain Nichols, and taking Captain Fitch and Captain Prentis,
with some "musketiers in birch conooes managed by some of
the Burgers, and the New England Indians martching by the
river side, commanded by Captain Stanton, to the Wood
Creke or Houtkill," where he met the mayor of Albany.
The next day he had a council of war with the Indians. The
day after (August 9) Captain Johnson, who some days



14 The Fort Edward Book.

before had been sent to Albany for a further supply of pro-
visions, returned with word that no provisions could be ob-
tained, and he further brought word that certain Indians
who v^ere to join his forces further north could not do so
because of the small pox breaking out in their midst. On
the 10th of August General Winthrop got word that the sol-
diers he had left at the Fork were taken sick daily. August
11, he asked the mayor of Albany to go about six miles
further down the river with some Burgers and Indians, and
"to try if more canooes can be made." He heard that Lieu-,
tenant Hubbell was sick at the Fork with small pox and
others likely to be, and some were sick from other causes ;
accordingly he sent the Dutch doctor to see them. By the
13th he found that the bark would not peel and no
more canoes could be made, and he had not half enough for
the "Christians." On the 15th he decided to abandon the
expedition as originally designed, and to send John Schuyler
with forty "Christians" and one hundred Indians to try and
surprise some of the Canadian settlements. Accordingly,
they marched back to the Fork, and, taking the best care
they could of Lieutenant Hubbell, they marched to the head
of Wood creek and in the evening Lieutenant Hubbell died.
"August 16, this morning we buried Lieutenant Hubbell
with all the respect wee could. After this seremony we
raartched over the Great Carying Place, twelve myles, with
one of our souldiers sick withe small pox, upon a little frame
caryed by four souldiers at a t3^me."

It would appear from this account that General Win-
throp, when he left the Hudson at Fort Edward, followed
substantially the course of Fort Edward creek. The ground
was swampy. Had he taken a course up the Fort Edward
hill through Sand}' Hill he would have, to some degree,
avoided the swamps, but his course lay along the valle}^ of
the Fort Edward creek until he came to the Fork, a "branch
of Wood Creek," now called the Half Way creek, which



The First Burial. 15

empties into Wood creek near the site of the present village
of Fort Ann. Here was his camp and here Lieutenant Hub-
bell was taken sick, and at the head of Wood creek (prob-
ably when thev left Wood creek, struck off for Fort Ed-
ward) they buried him, "and no man knoweth his sepul-
chre," even unto this day. This was the first recorded bur-
ial in the country. "A ver\^ good and expert officer" and he
v\ras an ancestral relative of the Hubbells who yet reside
in our town. But little remains to be said of the expedition
We have alread}' seen that in its main purpose it failed.
Captain John Schuyler returned from his trip on Septem-
ber 2, having killed twelve men and taken fifteen men and
four women prisoners, and a few days later General Win-
throp returned to Hartford, Conn. There was no settle-
ment then at the Great Carrying Place. It was simply a
spot on the globe, with no other name or designation. The
sturdy white pines which covered the swamps

"As the winds against a storm}' skj'
Their giant branches tossed,"

sang a mournful melody above Lieutenant Hubbell's lonely
grave. A few dead trees denuded of their bark marked the
place where the mayor of Albany had attempted to build
canoes, and now and then the mouldy remnant of some cast
off camp equipage, a few half covered spots with traces of
ashes and charcoal marking the place of soldiers' camp fires.
These were all the traces that the white man left here then ;
but if the English were not successful they were stubborn
and not easily discouraged, for the next year there was
another expedition marching up through here on their way
to Canada.

Major Peter Schuyler's Expedition, 1691.

It was in June, 1691, that Major Peter Schuyler, mayor
of Albany, a Dutchman, came up this way with some sol-



16 The Fort Edward Book,

diers and Indians. They were on their way to Canada to
harass the settlement of the French there. Major Schuyler
came here from Alban3^ His journal, from the time he left
Albany for a few days, with its odd spelling and misspelling,
may interest some. It runs as follows: "June the 21st,
1691, we sett out from Albany with our Christians for Can-
ida; travelled about twenty-four miles until we came to the
still water in the evening. We met about sixty of the River
Indians. 24th, we marched to Saraghtoga, sixteen miles
distance, and encamped about 2 of the clock afternoone.

"25th. We continued at Saraghtoga: foul weather,
where we were joyned by 12 Mowhawkes commanded by
one Schagavanhoenden.

"26th. We marched from thence to the first and second
carrying place tenne miles distance where we met two River
Indians come from hunting with two bears and one deer.

"27th. We remained at the second carrying place where
we killed to young bears and one deer.

"28th. We all marched over to the last carr\nng place,
being 12 miles by land and tenn miles by v^ater, in good
health and order, accompanied onh^ with 12 of the Schach-
ticooke Indians the rest having taryed at the last carrying
place to attend their sachems, being sick. The Mohawks
also taryed with them."

So it appears that at that time the hunting was good
here, and bears and deer were plentiful in the great pine
forest. The Mohawk Indians had their camp here while
their chiefs were sick ; perhaps they had too much English
firewater. Just where that camp was we can onl\^ con-
jecture now ; probably it w^as not far from where Fort Ed-
ward creek empties into the river. The Indians liked to be
near their canoes and near the water; besides there was,
and is today, a little high ground there, a convenient place
for a camp. The deer would come there to eat the lilly pads
in the creek, and, no doubt, thev went hunting for the bears



Major Schuyler's Journal. 17

in the great pine forest that then clothed the hills towards
Sandy Hill. The Colonel doesnot tell us very much more about
Fort Edward, but a few more facts from his diary may serve,
not only to complete the story of his expedition, but will also
help us form our judgment as to these early pioneers, and to
understand the conditions under which they lived and labored.
To resume the narrative: "June 30th we begun to
make canoes; felled several trees that could not be peeled ; in
the evening came up to us tenn of these Indians we left at
the second carying place and told us the Mohawks we had
left there w^ere gone a hunting to the eastward and promised
to meet us again at the falls, at the end of Wood Creek."
They, no doubt, struck off from Fort Edward through Ar-
gyle, Hebron and Granville, following the Granville river
down to Wood creek. On July 1st they made eight canoes,
"some of seven, eight, ten and twelve men" (I suppose these
figures refer to the capacity of the canoes). He "sent Lieut.
Abraham Schuyler and Gerryt Lucas to towne (Albany) to
see where the Maquase stayed. Three of the Maquase that
had parted from us came up in the afternoon and said
that they lay about two English miles to theeastw^ardof us.
I sent out two Indians to spy as farr as the Wood Creeke,
that returned and saw nothing." He continued to send out
"spys, " sometimes they were Indians and sometimes "Chris-
tians," and all the time kept building canoes. This work
seems to have delayed them because the bark would not peel
and in consequence some days they only made one. On July
5th some of the River Indians saw a French Mohawk and
shot at him three or four times, apparently without result.
Some of the Indians went home, some ran away, and on the
9th of July enough canoes were made for the "Christians." He
received "some "bisketts" and "pease" from Albany, and on
the 15th of July he received a thousand pounds of bread from
Albany. By thelTth he had reached Ticonderoga, where he
stopped to make more canoes, some having been broken on the



18 The Fort Edward Book.

way. He was at Crown Point on the 22(3, and had with
him there twenty -two Mohawks and sixty-six River In-
dians. He says "wee then held a couqsil of warr, how to
discover Fort Laprarie and to take a prisoner, if possible,
and concluded to send out nine men." The next day these
men "spyed fyeres" on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain
— so many that it seemed as if there might be quite an army.
He then sent out nine scouts, and if there was an enemy at
hand he was resolved "by the Grace of God to withstand
them," but nothing appeared that night ; in the meantime
he built a small stone fort, breast high, evidently not
intending to trust all the I'ortunes of war to the grace of
Providence. They were getting up into French domain by
this time (23d) and their sp3^s now and then had an en-
counter with the French scouts. On the 30th they left
their canoes and wounded in charge of a detachment, and
that night they encamped within ten miles of "Leprarie."
The Journal continues: "Aug. 1st, we resolved to fall
upon the fort. By break of day went to prayers and march-
ed." They came to a wind mill near Fort Leprarie when
they saw a fire. "The fire was stired three times to cause a
flame, which we conceived to be their sign to the Fort."
This proved to be the case and the French received them


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